Unplug this blog!

You can do the 4-minute shower, and it adds up

Posted by Rob Klovance

OK, let's start by getting something straight. While I got the Power Smart shower timer from a BC Hydro Outreach rep about six weeks ago, it has not taken me this long to take another shower. I just hadn't tried the timer – a cool little freebie at Outreach-attended events throughout B.C. – until today.

And whaddya know, here I am squeaky clean, happy to report that I met the four-minute shower challenge with 40 seconds to spare. I took no shortcuts – I'm clean behind the ears, Mom! – and was even more thorough than usual. So if I can do it, you can do it, too.

Unless, of course, your head is not as sparsely forested as mine. If you have an average guy's head of hair, I'll give you another 30 seconds. And if you're Russell Brand, Rafael Nadal, Johnny Depp or a woman with a whole lotta hair, I'll give you an extra minute, maybe two.

About now, you may be thinking... "But I love a hot 10-minute, sometimes 15-minute, shower and I'm not giving it up. Electricity's cheap, and I'd rather sacrifice my latte habit to meet the budget than to give up the therapeutic power of a long shower."

Well, if water conservation isn't enough to get you motivated – you use 10 to 20 litres more water for every minute you shower – here's a little math, followed by a few tips, to help you at least reconsider your stance on a budget basis.

Here's what someone in B.C. with electrically-heated water could save by halving an average 10-minute shower to five minutes.

If you and your housemates average 60 showers a month – that's one a day each for a couple, one every other day for a family of four – you're looking at a potential saving of $137 a year.

And here's the kicker: If you're a BC Hydro Team Power Smart member household whose long showers help leave you short of your 10% electricity reduction target for the year, you could lose out on the $75 reward offered for reaching that target. Now you're up to $197 a year in lost potential savings.

How to take a shorter shower

There are a whole lot of shorter shower tips out there on the Web, and not surprisingly, the bulk of tips are aimed at women, who have a lot more work to do in the shower than we males.

Some of the more inventive tips reside on an eHow user entry How to Save Money by Taking a Short Two Minute Shower, including stuff like:

  • Combing long hair before a shower for quicker cleaning;
  • Moving around and getting busy with the soap rather than soaking for a few minutes;
  • Shaving legs outside the shower;
  • Using a combination shampoo and conditioner.

One tip I like is to exercise before a shower, which generally means you're warmed up and don't need to have the water as hot. It's also a nice motivator and a great way to wake up.

Another eHow post How to Motivate Your Family to Save Money in the Shower, describes how to turn shorter showers into a family challenge.

The more obvious tips include switching to a low-flow showerhead, which is pretty much a basic requirement these days, along with considering taking a day or two off from a shower now and then. Particularly in dry climates, that's going to help your skin say healthier – and less itchy – than a shower-a-day habit that demands a whole lot of skin lotion.

Now, go ahead, get some exercise and have a short shower. You may just look, and feel, a whole lot better.

Rob Klovance is managing editor of bchydro.com. He continues to use The Accidental Tourist-inspired trick of washing his workout tanks at his feet while he showers.